The University of Mount Olive men’s basketball team will participate in March Madness.
Where and against who has yet to be determined.
Darius Spragley torched the nets for a game-high 32 points, and the Trojans clinched a spot in the season-ending Conference Carolinas tournament with a grinding 84-79 win over North Greenville University on Saturday evening.
Senior Cameron Robinson contributed 11 points and four assists. Sophomores Michael Brown and Jonathan Mebane provided nine points apiece.
“I thought we finally grinded and guarded a little bit, finally held somebody under 45% field goal percentage,” said UMO head coach Joey Higginbotham. “We made plays for each other, played unselfish. That’s really why we won the game.
“Just have to keep it going.”
The teams traded leads on five occasions and battled through seven ties – the last at 64-64 on Jeremiah Phifer’s swish from inside 17 feet.
Matthias Caver ignited a short, game-deciding 12-2 run with a short jumper. Phifer buried a 3-pointer, Johnny Hughes III scored on Brown’s offensive rebound/assist and Spragley got free for an open look inside 10 feet.
UMO led 76-66.
“We fought back,” Higginbotham said.
North Greenville closed to within 81-79 on an old-fashioned three-point play.
Alan Treakle and Spragley combined to knock down three free throws and secure the senior day victory for Robinson, Dominique Thiem (injured) and team manager Matt Snyder.
“Dominique has had a really tough career here and like I told him the locker room in front of the guys, this is going to make you tougher as a man when you go to the next step,” Higginbotham said. “Matt, I can’t say enough about what he has done for this program and how he’s willing to help in any way.
“Cam, he’s been our backbone...is tough. He’s been through some tough times, never questioned anything and is just a great guy. He’s a quality young man and has always represented our program at the highest level with character. We haven’t had the success I’d want a kid like that to have, but he’s stuck it out.”
The Trojans (16-11 overall, 10-9 CC) concluded regular-season play Tuesday at Belmont Abbey.